Thursday, January 02, 2014

New Year, Same Old Story

One of my favourite things about this time of year: The "best of" lists whether it's comics, creators, artists, or whatever else. This is my opportunity to discover what I should have discovered/been reading throughout the year. My "books to be read" piles are growing. Not just one pile, it has grown to many piles. They were out of control before the holidays, now there are no words to describe them. My condo has piles all over the place.

One of my least favourite things about this time of year: Future of comics talk. Yes, I've done it in the past, some time ago, but I've just grown tired of it. It's more print versus digital, digital comics versus webcomics, sales analysis, and "this is the future of comics" declarations that are either obvious or just trying to be shocking, like talking about absolutes, rather than realistic. I've decided I just want to live in the now, what comics are currently sitting around my house, and let the future figure itself out.

Man, I am just too grumpy.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Another Comic Business Post

Starting to re-think that last post and I may post a follow up eventually. After all, who am I to crap on anyone's dream? Even if it is to walk into Marvel Comics and just be handed the reins to Spider-Man.

But on another comic related topic, Terry Moore recently made an appeal for people to pick up Rachel Rising periodicals as the numbers are getting to the point where it may not be worth it to keep going. Two things seem to be factors. One, people are buying trades and with the current comic business set up it's periodicals that keep a comic going (unless it gets to Walking Dead/Fables level and the trades sell like crazy). Moore makes more money on periodicals. If the periodical sale isn't there it never gets collected into trades. Second, sales have been okay but it's getting to the point where the buzz isn't there anymore. The book started with the usual Terry Moore crowd. Reviewers raved about it and it picked up some readers as the buzz grew. But now Moore says people aren't really buzzing anymore. People (reviewers/bloggers) aren't saying much because it's the same thing with each issue: "Another great issue", "You should be reading this series", etc. And since it gets old repeating yourself and these people are looking to bring in readers themselves with new stuff, people sort of stop talking about it.

Other creators have noticed this with their books too. They get a few issues in, there's a buzz created, sales go up as people check it out, but eventually sales plateau and people just stop talking about this excellent series that's still going on.

So what happens? Well, if you're Marvel or DC you make an event. You change the creative team. You say the universe will never be the same. You kill a character or bring one back from the dead. Or you shove the villain into the heroes body, essentially killing off the hero. People bitch. People complain. But people talk and people buy.

Or, you limit your series. You follow Y the Last Man, DMZ, Scalped, Sandman, and countless others and you bring your story to a close to move on to other stuff.

Or, we (meaning someone other than me) figure out how to make the comic business work. We have periodicals, we have trades, we have digital. The methods are all there to get a comic creators work out to their audience and people have shown a willingness to pay so what is the problem here?

Either way, I do hope things work out for Terry Moore and Rachel Rising is a great series that you should be reading.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dreaming or Just Delusional

What is it about aspiring comic book artists (and writers)? Is it just this occupation and I just don't notice others or is there something that draws the delusional (or possibly dreamers). I see it online all the time, the guys who are constantly harassing Marvel editors because they think they draw the coolest Spider-Man or have a great idea for a Spider-Man story or have no concrete ideas but would make a great "idea man" (yes, I actually saw someone asking for a job where he just sits around coming up with cool ideas for Marvel). And I see it at the conventions. I just find it very, very weird.

The latest example. At Pop Expo Ottawa, as I was looking at some art they had for sale, a guy approached some of the pro artists and asked how he could get a job at Marvel (flag #1). He said he was just out of some arts school (no experience) and really wanted to work for Marvel (maybe not a full flag, flag #1.5 I suppose). He had no physical portfolio built up or anything posted online to show, he seemed to think a simple email or something would get him in (flag #2). So then it was suggested that he connect with the online community of aspiring artists and writers to try to build up some sort of portfolio and hopefully work for a small publisher, make a name for himself before going to Marvel but he had no clue where to go (seriously, can't do a bit of homework for himself? Flag #3) and did not seem all that keen on this approach. He seemed really let down that it wasn't just that easy to work for Marvel (flag #4). So the artists started naming creators that have forums and such set up just for aspiring creators to connect and sure enough, he doesn't recognize any of the names mentioned. We're talking Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis and other big name writers and talent (Flag #5). I was still trying not to involve myself in this conversation at this point but it was getting rather difficult. So the artists asked him what creators he's influenced by and he couldn't name one. Not one. He said he never really pays attention to creators (Flag #6).

This went on for a while and the artists were extremely polite and they gave him some very solid advice. But really, why do so many people think "Hey, I'll just be able to walk up to some Marvel guy and he'll give me a job drawing Spider-Man." Do you know how many people want to draw Spider-Man? Do you realize just how many people currently working for Marvel or other companies are working night and day hoping they can get up to drawing a top tier book like Spider-Man? This is not something they are going to give to some guy out of some art school with no portfolio and no professional experience.

This is why I avoid those "How to break into Marvel Comics" panels at cons. I feel it's mostly the same answers to the same questions. How do you get a job at Marvel? If you are asking that question then the answer is most likely "You don't."

I guess comics aren't the only thing, I do hear about people thinking they could just walk onto a sports team, step into a WWE ring, star in a big blockbuster, or make millions writing a bit of software over the weekend (even if they have no idea what that software is going to do). But I just hear it so often with comics.

And don't even get me started on what it actually takes to draw a monthly comic. One story I tell often is when someone asked for advice on drawing their characters consistently I suggested doing a character design workup, sketching the character over and over from different angles, and doing one of those "20 emotions" worksheets (where you draw your character with each of the emotions) they said "You want me to draw the same character over and over 20 times? Are you crazy?" I hate to break it to these people but do you realize how many times the Spider-Man artists has to draw Peter Parker or Mary Jane or any other supporting character? Drawing comics is not just drawing cool pinups of your favourite character whenever you feel like it. I know I have no actual experience but even I realize that.

I don't know why I felt the need to rant this. Maybe I'm just going through some crappy stuff and that's making me feel the need to destroy other people's dreams but come on people, let's be at least a little realistic here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ending 2013 With My 500th Post

I guess I missed my recap of Ottawa Pop Expo. So, in brief, it was a fun time but not really up there with Ottawa Comiccon. The crowds were a lot smaller (which many people felt was better as Ottawa Comiccon is packed and it can be hard to do any decent shopping), there were fewer merchants (both in terms of stores and artists), the comic artist section was weak, and the celebrities were very Walking Dead oriented. They say they want to move away from comics for this con to differentiate it from Ottawa Comiccon. I don't see why they feel that need, it's not like Ottawa Comiccon is that comics heavy. But in the end, it was a fun weekend. Some friends got to participate in the cosplay masquerade (a roommate of a friend won best in show) and it will all be part of an episode of Heroes of Cosplay. My sister-in-law got to meet Tom Felton. And I ended up buying artwork from Marco Rudy and Adrian Alphona as well as grabbing the Hot Toys Hulk figure, a very expensive purchase but after the year I've had I felt like I deserved to treat myself. It'll be interesting to see what they do next year, if they go ahead with doing another year. And I wonder if they could move it up a bit to avoid the winter weather.

Anyways, in terms of comics this year I've bought a lot but haven't even had the time to read them. I'd like to do a "best of" list but I'm still making my way through some of the best of 2012. So I guess I'll focus on what I'm looking forward to reading in 2014. My reading list has gotten quite long and includes Mouse Guard, Elephantmen, Indestructible Hulk, Invincible, Sixth Gun, Atomic Robo, Rachel Rising, Hawkeye, Saga, Manhattan Projects, Chew, Astro City, Powers, Fables, and Swamp Thing. I've also been picking up Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and Faith but will most likely be dropping those two soon. I may check out the Serenity comic coming out but I don't have high hopes. I'm also looking forward to Miracle Man, Marvel's last Wizard of Oz book, and any Dark Crystal books that happen to come along (if they do). It will be sad to see Fables come to an end but I guess it's better to end now than to drag it on too long (though some may feel that it could/should have ended after the war). I'm also still waiting on the final Locke and Key hardcover for that one to finish, the final issue has already come out (nobody spoil it for me).

But getting back to 2013, although it wasn't a great year for me personally there were highlights. Ottawa Comiccon was great. Fan Expo Canada was a fun time. Ottawa Pop Expo was a nice surprise to end the year. And I learned that I have a nephew/niece on the way for 2014. And I'm slowly making my way back to getting the Bluenoser going again.

So I hope you had a great year, are having a happy holiday season, and 2014 is even better for you.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Quick Comic Reviews - Indestructible Hulk and Rachel Rising

My "to be read" piles are completely out of control. I know I've said that before but it's getting crazy. Once I'm done with "A Storm of Swords" I need to concentrate on making a dent in the pile.

The Incredible Hulk Vol. 2: Gods and Monsters - As much as I think Waid's run on the Hulk has been good this volume didn't really hit a home run with me. The Simonson/Thor story was good but some parts just didn't work all that well for me, whether it was the writing/dialogue or the art. The Daredevil story seemed a bit better to me. So overall I'm still enjoying the series, I'm just not putting it at the top of my Hulk runs just yet.

Rachel Rising Vol. 3: Cemetery Songs - It seems like it's been a while since I read Volume 2 (which was actually back in March), I had a tough time remembering what happened prior to this volume (I was a little disappointed with no recap page, I like those things). But this volume is another strong story. Again, I couldn't put it down and when I got the end, wow! Can't wait for volume 4 now. Definitely a recommended read.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Quick Comic Revews - Spike: A Dark Place

Spike: A Dark Place - I can't remember why I picked up this book, I may have just been in the store and had nothing else to pick up, but I really could have done without it. A long drawn out story that really doesn't go anywhere and okay art. Not a bad book but nothing to write home about and not really a necessary (or recommended) read in my opinion. I think the Buffy stories really lost their way when they went to comics and this one continues that trend. And that's really all I have to say.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Quick Comic Review - Chew Volume 7: Bad Apples

Chew Volume 7 -- This series seems to be moving more and more to a darker and more intense tone. It's still got much of its comedy intact but this volume focuses on the repercussions from the previous volume. And, although I prefer the lighter side of this series it's still a great book. Still recommending this series to those with a strong stomach (yeah, bad pun).